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Freight Train Wreck at Orange

On the night of February 1, 1965, a two freight cars of a north-bound Southern Railroad train loaded with steel beams derailed and crashed into the Orange train depot on East Main Street. The train numbered 144 cars, and the caboose detached and skidded down the tracks to a point near the May-Fray crossing. Residents as far away as Blue Ridge Drive reported feeling the ground shake at the moment of impact.

The only reported injury were minor cuts and bruises of a passenger riding in the caboose. Hundreds of tons of steel cargo and crash debris was removed from the crash scene. The depot was heavily damaged, and four signal towers and electronic railroad control systems were also destroyed in the incident. Witnesses reported seeing the cargo on the flat cars shift as the train made its way around the curve just south of the Church Street crossing.

The wreck brought back memories of the fatal train wreck of October 17, 1917, that occurred at Spotswood Station siding just north of the town of Orange. Two trains collided and the engine of the No. 38 train derailed and overturned killing the engineer, Frank Larmond, and train fireman, James Johnson. The station’s name was then changed to Larmond in honor of the dead engineer. Larmond was the oldest engineer working for the Southern Railroad at the time of his death.


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